April 30th. Morning.Financial District. Headquarters of Perkins Coie. 23d floor. Global Innovator Competition 2016 is about to start!
This year's GIC has been designed to bring in the limelight the most disruptive technologies. No matter what the industry, no matter what the geography. GIC team & judges has short-listed 10 startups from all over the world to pitch today - in front of the well-known and highly demanding members of the GIC Judge Panel 2016 heading by SVB Managing Director Andy Tsao.
Having properly fed everyone with lunch, including judges, startups and guests, it is time to kick off!
"Welcome! To the Global Innovator Competition 2016, most energizing part of the GTS, " - announcing I, being honoured to be the Master of the event. "And now, startup battle begins!.."
From financial sector with "Token", having a glance at medicine with "Nido Surgical" and "BuildYourBody Health", digging into law industry with "Court Body" and cyber security with "Nimbus", learning how to find a dream car with "Kosko" and charge any device wirelessly with "Global Energy Transmittion" (Russia), providing Internet to the whole Africa with "Tuse" (South Africa), enabling farmers to transport their goods more efficiently with "eHarvestHub" and transforming the air industry with "Ptero" - judges, audience and us, GIC team, were engaged into two hours of charismatic pitches and emotional Q&As with startups.
The results are to be announced tomorrow, during the 1st day of the Global Technology Symposium. And right now everyone is sliding into the hall with a spectacular view to the Financial district: to re-fuel, network and share impressions after the intensive pitching time. And taste some delicious vine provided by SVB!
Day 1. 31st March. GTS. St. Francis Yacht Club.
Splendid view on the Golden Gate Bridge, yachts, swaying on the waves, smell of the freshly brewed coffee, men in elegant suits talking progress - Global Technology Symposium is beginning!
Alexandra Johnson, gorgeous GTS President, welcomes everyone and opens the Global Technology Symposium 2016 "Inspiring What's Next".
The inspiration starts with Consuls General Conversation moderated by Ms Johnson. The subject is growth and value that entrepreneurship brings to the countries economy. The Consuls are from Norway, Singapore and Russia.
Ms Elizabeth Lindsey, National Geographic Explorer, charming woman, gives a motivational start to the Symposium's talks. Hers is dedicated to Mastery. "Masters are not born, they are created." Having travelled all over the world and faced myriad of people's stories, Elizabeth is addressing her presentation to the greatest ever story and adventure - each person's life. And the greatest and most precise navigator one can have - a Human Heart. Now, and no sometime, we have to find our path in hyper saturated technology world and develop our own Mastery. I can write endlessly about this topic as consider it to be "the ground to all", however, it is just a part of the GTS and many other wonderful speakers are to come.
"AI Will Take Over and It is OK." Pascal Finette, Managing Director of SU Labs, is on the stage. A very energetic, engaging and passionate presenter. From national geography - Pascal is transferring us to the technology world, with the king of it - Artificial Intelligence. Year 2016: Google DeepMind beats legendary Go-player in Go. In chess we have been loosing over a decade. Not a good news. But! This is what is happening. Computers now are learning in real-time and it brings lots of changes to the game. Learning rapidly with no excuses (as humans usually tend to have), computers penetrating into the industries, where humans sometimes can hardly compete with them. Still, they do not have empathy and enough creativity. This is our competitive advantage, so far. Good news. But for how long?
And this point, I am smoothly moving to welcome some upcoming guests in the hall, while Bradley Rotter, WatershipBlue Inc., and Colleen Cutcliffe, Whole Biome, continue the brilliant set of talks with insights into the world's water crisis and secrets about human biome. I managed to catch some parts of Colleen's speech and was pretty match amazed what brought her to set up this company: her new-born baby. And one "impractical" question Colleen asked herself once, after her baby was born. One more case to prove, that meaningful companies are not started to earn money, but to accomplish Mission and following by passion.
Amazing panel is during the lunch. Pitch Johnson, "one of the Founding Fathers of venture capital", Timothy Draper - super star in venture world, Alana Aldag Atkenson - VC-women, what is already an accomplishment and Jeremy Fiance - young bright entrepreneur&VC. Perfect composition: every generation, gender, different nationalities plus deep knowledge of the field. Delicious meals meanwhile. What else to wish from a conference?
The second part of the Day carries us straightway to top of the world. Alan Eustace, Engineer & Stratospheric Explorer, is sharing the latest achievements and plans of conquering the Space.
Ingrid Sanders, PopExpert, takes after Alan and speaks about lifelong learning, something that we can hardly live without today.
Who genuinely "is dancing" on the stage is Patrick Renvoise. He reveals all the truth about the reptilian brain. That we have. The more you listen, the more you believe. And the more frightening sounds now previous Pascal's talk about power of AI.
Unlikely one could have imagined, but the next fireside chat is devoted to the situation in Syria. Jerry Weissman, world-famous master of presentations is interviewing Puneh Ala’i, a brave lady, that just got back from Syria. There she was helping to serve Syrian people in despair with food, shelter, medical support but most of all love and hope. This is the mission of the organization she established later - For the Unseen. It is a powerful story illustrating that anything is possible if you have determination backed with passion and faith.
And it is already the end of the first GTS day. With the closing speech on the stage is Ben Davis - Art Critic, Author of "9.5 Theses on Art and Class" and Illuminator of the Bay Bridge.
After Ben's talk follows almost two more hours of discussions, networking and toasts from Russia, Georgia, South Africa, Norway, Gzech Republic, US, Canada (and more countries whose representatives came to the GTS) as well as many thanks for the GTS happening every year.
Day 2. 1st April. GTS. St. Francis Yacht Club.
Decoding opens the day. Decoding the Disruption. Frode Odegard, Founder of the Lean Systems Institute, is presenting transformational changes taking place in modern institutions. Boosted by startups vibrant activity, big organizations and companies have to re-think not only their certain operations and "arms", but the fundamentals.
Next code, I guess, we will be decoding to the rest of our existence. It is a Life Code. Juan Enriquez, one of the world’s leading authorities on the uses and benefits of genomic code, speaks about the profound changes that genomics and other life sciences will cause in business, technology, politics and society.
Yobie Benjamin is another desired speaker to listen to. Former City Group CTO, Yobie is a WEF'15 technology pioneer, inventor and unstoppable progress promoter. Besides engaging us in the absorbing tech talk (I was going to write TED talk, which is also true), he shows his three latest "tech-babies": photos-from-satellite technology, a tiny little card-chip to get full analysis of the blood and VR-glasses (through which I managed to watch Tupac's performance during the break time). He is also CTO of the promising Token startup which is now short-listed to be a GIC winner.
This day's fireside chat is all about Accelerating Technology and Security. Reese Jones, accomplished technology expert and incestor, talks to Eric Benhamou, a world-recognized IT expert, entrepreneur and investor, about technology influence, cyber security issues and guidance in this gadget-oriented world.
It is hard to imagine any process without Money presence. Lizette Chapman, Bloomberg Business (moderator), Dr. Keith Weiner, Gold Standard Institute USA, Claudia Fan Munce, Board Member Bank of the West/BNP & Venture Advisor, NEA and Magdalena Nam, NYSE, are discussing and, maybe, even building in real-time, New Logic of Money.
Jeffrey Hayzlett is the next rock star and special GTS guest. Being an excellent business-expert, radio host, many times speaker, Jeffrey shares some of his personal business-stories as well as a life-time desire to be a cowboy. Which, apparently, he tried to bring into life a few years ago. One story touches me above all. About a man (not Jeffrey) being 100 feet below the ocean, when he noticed some damages in his suit and little time left to go up. One wrong action - and no sunshine anymore. He was among the other divers, his friends. He survived. "You know why I was not fear that time?" - said he after, "Because I was in a good company". How important it is to be surrounded by reliable, good people - whatever you do: business or diving.
And now... The GIC winner is to be announced! Andy Tsao comes up to the stage to state the GIC Judge Panel verdict and reveal some thoughts behind it. "Three startups: Nido Surgical, eHarvestHub and Token got the most admiration of the Jury. As a special award, all of them will receive follow-up introductions to the top Silicon Valley VC funds.". But the Winner is one. IBM Ventures Managing director George Ugras is opening the envelope, silence in the room. In that moment you can easily say who is a startup. They all look very excited in anticipation of the results... "Token!".
Silicon Valley is a startup Mecca. Nevertheless, the rest of the world does not sleep. Tatyana Kanzaveli, Open Health Network, Allen Taylor, Endeavor Catalyst, Richard Horning, ReedSmith, Silicon Vikings, Naoko Okumoto, World Innovation Lab and Toby Lewis, Global Corporate Venturing are discussing what to expect, saying you are in Jamaica or Oslo (besides, lots of sun and fresh Norwegian salmon, of course). The lively conversation is flowing into the future of online demand knowledge. Jeany Stein, Founder of Panotip provides the latest highlights.
Augmented and Virtual Reality - probably, the second hottest topic after AI. Robert Scoble, American Bloggers, Technical Evangelist, presents his vision and expectations of the VR role in the future. It feels like one day we all will find our selves Alices in the Wonderland... Honestly saying, sometimes it is even scary to imagine where we can end up with all these VR opportunities. Do we really need it? And if yes, in what spheres in our lives, in particular? - the questions that can't escape my mind.
The event is being wrapped up by a sorcerer. I have never had this experience before in my events organization career, but it is an "effect of a bomb". The audience burst into laughing since the very beginning of the performance. Juggling in a different ways, Mr. Robert Strong drops a challenge to all amazing technologies we have seen before. Because sometimes it is truly difficult to distinguish where is Technology and where is Magic.
GIC finalists and the Winner can be found here.
To enjoy photo coverage, please, visit our Facebook group.
We will Be Back!
PS. Every event is not organised just by itself - it is huge and profound work upfront. It was my greatest pleasure and honour to collaborate with GTS 2016 team: Alexandra Johnson, Chris Stone, Frode Odegard, Bobbie Fakkema, Nasser Sagheb, Ilya Vinogradskiy, Oksana Nevyerova and Tanya Odisho.
Thank you ALL for being a great TEAM! We definately made GTS a BMW in the world of conferences (I wanted to write Bentley, but abbreviation just fits more).
Thank you KC Leung for the amazing photos!